Sundays in Madrid are languid, slow & yet filled with the best pleasures in life. As Catholicism is still the main religion of the people, Sunday is still reserved as a type of holy day, something set aside from work for enjoyment and friendships.
Waking up to the sounds of children playing the courtyard below, after a sleep-in, with the Metro right around the corner and a big appetite, you can be anywhere in Madrid within an hour. Passing illustrious gardens, street vendors with their filled carts, families, restaurants, and everywhere people spending time together, picnicking, playing, strolling, napping in the sun.
Emerging from the Metro in Puerta del Sol, one gets a feeling of the grand, traditional architecture of the city, along with the overwhelming feeling of choice. There is no direction you can go from the square, Puerta del Sol that will not render monumental & ornate architecture, incredible landscaping and surprising activities.
Markets seem to be growing out from between residential apartment buildings, and delicious chocolates and flowers flow out onto the street. With the generous and welcoming nature of the locals, you can smell, taste, touch and be persuaded by their delicacies.
One of my favourite markets in Madrid is El Mercado de San Miguel, or the Market of Saint Michael. The market is a stunning, yet modest neoclassical building wrought of iron and large plate glass. The layout is a system of walkways and stalls, offering ready to eat food as well as a collection of dairy, butchery, vegetables & fruit vendors. The intense colours, textures & smells of the products themselves make you feel like you’ve gone back in time.
The best time to go are late afternoon, for an ice cream in the Plaza de San Miguel and a wine in the sun, or in the evening for delicious tasting platters, wine & desserts. The atmosphere created by the buzz of activity in the stalls, of those coming to collect their food to cook for Cena (dinner) or for a night out with friends gives off a feeling of community & freedom. The dining spaces are spread out among the stalls, so that eating & drinking there feels intimate, and informal.
On a side note, if you’re stuck for gift ideas, the Gastromanías of mini wine bottles, handmade dried pasta and jellies make incredible gifts for those back home, instead of a key chain or T-shirt that would be an import itself.